Saturday, February 17, 2018

Modern progressive CHAMBER/BAROQUE/ORCHESTRAL (Rock/Pop/Folk)

Alright, so I'm going to go with what I have here to avoid drawing this thing out too far and having it become more novel-length than it should be at this point.

Modern progressive Chamber/Baroque/Orchestral Pop/Rock/Folk bands. I suppose many would just call them "Indie" bands with some extra textures and players, but I hate the term 'indie" and think their use of violin, cello, trumpet, trombone, viola, flute, clarinet, oboe, tuba, harp, mandolin, xylophone, etc, etc stands out.

And these are MODERN artists, per of course you can say many artists like Frank Zappa, ELO, Jethro Tull, Chicago, Kansas, King Crimson, Genesis, Mahavishnu Orchestra, Renaissance, the Moody Blues,
etc used these kinds of instruments of course long before any of these bands formed.

And of course I'm sure I didn't include many and if necessary, maybe I'll do a Part 2 or a REDUX at some point, an Update or whatever.

Of course below is a list of featured artists and then another longer lists who probably also deserve more detail about, namely the artist that feature 1 like a violin or mandolin or something, but I kind of see them as just a 1-added instrument only I suppose.

Post-Rock though, I think there's tons of them, per these extra instruments are almost a trait of modern Post Rock, or the recent stuff from the last decade especially. And frankly, those are the Post Rock bands I often enjoy, rather than the Explosions in the Sky-worship sound.

Anyway, I'm glad this is finally getting published. I may try and make a podcast again or a video about them, but maybe not. I do think including Dirt Poor Robins kind of pushed this entry to get done more as they have this style and

Also mind you, all of these artists ARE GOOD SONGWRITERS/COMPOSERS. I.e. other groups (i.e. Joanna Newsom, Arcade Fire, lol) may use some of these elements, but their songs don't do ANYTHING FOR ME per I would not call them "progressive" or even just worth my time at this point.

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The Polyphonic Spree

This was the 1st band I discovered that really made all the instruments (and members/size) a THING as in, a large part of their sound. They included maybe 15 or more instrumentalists, and then an additional number of singers that I think did percussion. The whole Phil Spector WALL-OF-SOUND fits in a lot of ways. Multiple drummers, guitars,keys, and then stuff like trumpet, sax, oboe, french horn, violin, cello, flute, clarinet..not sure.

I'm not sure if I want to scan their Wiki or RYM just to see, but the point being, they added a ton of extra/non-traditional rock instruments.

And yet, their SONGS were songs, not a large mess of sound.

As far as their catalog, I enjoy most of their records, although I've never found myself obsessed with any of them. The Fragile Army is probably the record I would say is my favorite, and I know St.Vincent was with them on that album (she may have been on others as well I think).

Together We're Heavy and The Beginning Stages of.. are kind of conceptual or at least structured/labeled like Suites or Classical pieces.

I should add though, I kind of concluded, while they do involve a lot of complex arrangements with all the instruments and members, the music they write is not as odd or adventurous as some others on this list. I.e. they use a lot of Major Keys and don't use odd times that much; so how "prog" are they really? I dunno. I still think they are unique and at least not making music to get on the radio really.

Also their concerts and sound in general does seem kind of cult-like almost religious in some ways. Even just with the Robes they wear on stage I suppose.

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Sufjan Stevens

Sufjan Stevens may be the most influential and well-known among all the artists mentioned in this entry. However, the odd thing is the actual Chamber/Baroque music he has done, is really only a fraction of his output. And frankly, only a fraction of it that I like.

Illinois and Michigan are frankly the 2 albums I think of him most for the emphasis on Chamber/Baroque instrumentation.

Although I must admit, I don't know his debut album A Sun Came nor even the 60+ minute EP All Delighted People that well to know how much they are used.

But I do recall many of his other albums, including ironically my favorite The Age of Adz they are not noticed if not there at all.

But to summarize, the horns and strings are well found and represented on those 2 concept albums about the 2 US States. Although not highly in technical standpoint, but at times they get complex and very layered. They do seem to be highly using FOLK MUSIC though, which is common, but not necessarily the case with many of the other artists on this list.

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Cloud Cult

These guys are definitely 1 of my favorites, and while I love so many aspects to their songs; mind you many kinds of songs if you go back to their early period; I definitely feel their use and emphasis to use Violin, Cello and Trumpet among other instruments, I love.

I think Sarah Perbix plays a fair amount of Trumpet and even some French Horn when I've seen them live in recent years.

Which albums do they stand out the most? off the top of my head, I'm not sure. I suppose Lightchasers comes to mind as many of the riffs not only come from Craig's guitar, but the Cello. And the violin often helps amplify and drive the rhythm.

I mean compared to some groups, maybe they don't use them as much, but per they have had members just on those instruments for over a decade, they certainly are a big part of what their sound is.

Shannon Frid I think joined the band sometime in the Mid 2000's and certainly since then (The Meaning of 8 or even Happy Hippo onward).

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This is one of my favorites among this list. I guess to just get it out of the way, they came from Michigan and came up not long after Sufjan did, in the early 2000's. So once a guy online was telling me how while he enjoys Anathallo, he felt Sufjan kind of was the 1st to do this sort of thing.

Which I can't argue,  but I will argue their music is different from Sufjan. Namely per how energetic and even heavy it gets at times. They aren't Metal mind you, but even on their debut album
Luminous Luminescence in the Atlas Position reminds me more of Tool at times than Sufjan.

They didn't have as much with the extra instruments on that one (although I recall there are some horns from memory), but the subsequent releases, Sparrows, Holiday at Sea and Hymns EPs and especially the masterpiece many look to in 2006's Floating World, definitely features horns, strings, extra percussion and what not.

Plus of all the people who played on it, Timbre is included on Harp (and vocals harmonies?)

Their final album, 2008's Canopy Glow has a lot the chamber/baroque instrumentation as well.

Anathallo honestly were an awesome band, that aren't around anymore like many bands from the 2000's, but I think even if their influence isn't direct, their music can certainly be included in the development and changes in artists using more than just traditional rock instruments.

Margot and the Nuclear So and So's

Margot and the Nuclear So and So's began not that long after Anathallo, but I didn't get wind of them until maybe late in 2006. Their debut album Dust of Retreat uses trumpet and cello, harmonica, violin at times. Although like Sufjan, the songs are still largely driven by guitar and keys along with Richard Edwards vocals.

The same can be said for the 2 follow-up records Animal! and Not Animal! which came in 2008.

Unfortunately, the music they have done since, I think largely per dramatic lineup changes, has dismissed a lot of the Chamber/Baroque (progressive) elements.

I'm sure there were good reasons for that to happen, but as a fan who was loving those 1st 3 albums, I still feel the loss of that style. Thankfully, many artists have come since both chronologically and on my radar.

Will Margot ever go back to it? I'm skeptical, but some fans are fine with that. My biggest thing is to find out what people like Andy Fry are doing now. I even recall chatting with him about Marillion once, lol.

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Jared Micah and Hats

Jared Micah and Hats are 1 of if not the most obscure artist on this list. I'm not sure when they began, but from what I know, they only released the 1 debut album T.C.H.T.O.B. in 2007, an album I really enjoy. It's a lot like the Floating World period Anathallo, but with a bit of a religious and melancholy approach.

Although if I recall, there is 1 track which includes a girl crying for a bit.

I think they broke up around 2008 per there's an article talking about Jared moving to NewYork which I think he even ended up playing with a guy I met once named Zeke Zumbach. But I remember at 1 point there was info about a 2nd record, but obviously it never came out.

What Jared is up to now? I should try and research.

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The Dear Hunter

The Dear Hunter, I guess I don't need to elaborate in huge detail per I've done so with for what seems like countless entries in here (they may be the band I've mentioned most, lol).

But certainly they have and still do at times feature chamber/baroque instrumentation. In recent years, Act IV and V namely, they used "The Awesome Orchestra."

But I suppose I think of some of the string and horn parts most in Act II and maybe Act III even at times. I distinctly remember even seeing video of Casey on MYSPACE in 2007 playing a Cello if I'm not mistaken, in a Making-of Act II clip.

I guess unlike Cloud Cult and some others on this list, they don't actually have any Full-Time members who play cello or violin or trumpet, but they do incorporate those elements more prominently than some (even like a band like dredg for example).

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The River Empires

Definitely among this list, they go toward the top of my favorites. The 1 Double Album Epilogue
 they released in 2010 is an epic masterpiece and remains my favorite release this current decade.

Jessy Ribordy has Falling Up and the TRE spinoff The Gloomcatcher, but this is where he totally blew me away. The lush instrumentation of Strings namely (also horns and percussion, and mandolin)
Many of the pieces are really modern classical works.

I am not sure, but I thought Jessy had an assortment of musicians involved (per maybe why it took so long to release?) but much of  those arrangements may have been done with something like ProTools?

edit: NO WAY. I don't have my CD in front of me, but per Discogs. Cello, French Horn, Fiddle, Oboe, Flute, Trombone, Tuba, etc.

Anyway, I've written much about them in the past, but certainly having Casey Crescenzo involved along with the approach to making a big concept album, shares much in common with the artists doing this style.

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Emanuel and the Fear

When I was 1st introduced to Emanuel and the Fear in 2010, from an online-friend named Sara, she noticed how much I loved Apes and Androids and they may appeal to me. Which I follow to a point, but they definitely have differences.

Their debut album Listen includes violin, flute, cello and even trombone. I really was more reminded of the likes of ELO or something I guess.

The subsequent albums, The Janus Mirror and Primitive Smile, I recall used a lot of those extra instruments, although the albums and songs themselves don't stand out as much, so I guess I don't necessarily think of them. I suppose in fairness, The Janus Mirror in 2012 I did like, but for some reason, failed to go back to, which I guess I still should.

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She is a Harpist, maybe first and foremost. So that alone makes me think of her music under this umbrella. And while her album Little Flowers features other things even beyond the brilliant Harp arrangements, I think she emphasized those instruments even more on the 2015 Double Album Opus Sun and Moon.

She used an orchestra on the 2nd CD I know, although that one is more spotty per the Choral/Opera elements. And the work on the 1st disc involves a lot of things even beyond her Harp arrangements.

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Marketa Irglova

While I might not think of her solo music emphasizing the extra instruments as much as others on this list, they still do enough. She is doing Orchestral Folk/Pop of a sort. The arrangements are lush enough, even though the large base of her sound is her voice and use of piano and other folk elements.

But looking at Muna's credits, Trombone, Violin, Daf, Banjo, Upright Bass are among the credits list. And Anar includes Sax, Trumpet, Trombone and Cello among the credits.

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Typhoon were a bit of a breath of fresh air to discover in 2011 when I found their new EP A New Kind of House. I guess it was partially per seeing Anathallo break up and Margot having those lineup changes, Typhoon were a great find, and a band who toured.

White Lighter came out in 2013 of course and it really raised my interest even more. And then just a month ago, their new album Offerings, while it doesn't have as much emphasis on the extra instruments, still includes more than enough to not feel they changed that great part of their sound.

They are a large ensemble, or were at least at 1 point a couple of years ago when I saw them at The Cedar Cultural center. At least 17 or 18, maybe more like 25 members including trumpet, violin, cello, viola, banjo.

Hunger and Thirst, A New Kind of House and White Lighter may include it more, but even with a bit of a shortening of membership, they still a lot of extra instruments and in a progressive way.

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Mother Falcon

I found Mother Falcon around the same time as I found Typhoon in 2011, and immediately enjoyed their album Alhambra. As the pic above shows, they have multiple cellists and other extra instrumentalists.

And in some ways, I kind of wish they would receive the same attention as bands like Typhoon or even The Family Crest, per they've been pretty prolific with an album every couple years with You Knew in 2013 and Good Luck Have Fun in 2015.

I think some of the members have day jobs teaching music which may be part of why their momentum hasn't been at the same level as some other bands.

I will never forget some post on FB from them about Stravinsky and Punk and I couldn't help but chime in with the fact Yes were influenced by Stravinsky and being progressive. But so be it, the fact they draw from Stravinsky seems like a large reason to see them as a modern baroque or classical group.

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Speaking of artists drawing from classical music, the pianist from iamthemorning Gleb Kolyadin I recall mentioning his influence/interest in classical music. And iamthemorning do use Cello, Harp, Flute, Clarinet, Trumpet and a lot of other percussion and instruments. Namely on their last record Lighthouse from 2016.

The fact they come from Russia and the history with Classical music there may have something to do with that being a part of their sound. Although I guess I think of Marjana's vocals and the piano 1st and foremost with their music, but definitely notice a lot of the chamber/baroque textures at times.

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The Family Crest

The Family Crest have become a favorite of mine ever since seeing them open for Mother Falcon at the 7th Street Entry in 2014, and then checking out both of their records at the time, Beneath the Brine and The Village.

They used many kinds of orchestral and chamber instruments, and not just from full-time members of the band, but in looking at the credits on Beneath the Brine, there's many extra musicians.

Flute, Viola, Violin and Cello among the members of the band.

The EP Prelude to War also includes a good amount of saxophone, and the also seems to be showing up on their upcoming record The War: Act I per just the 1st 2 tracks shared.

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Dirt Poor Robins

The final artist to feature here is the band whose blown me away over the last couple of weeks in Dirt Poor Robins. I'm not sure if a lot of the string, woodwind and horns are played on their albums, but I suspect a lot. From Trumpet to Cello, to Violin to Trombone I think.'

And with the vaudeville/ragtime styles they include, using those extra instruments seems almost unavoidable. But the arrangements of them are equally impressive.

I love the way they use them, much like The Dear Hunter or Cloud Cult, they really serve the songs and even concept/story very well. I think they use them as well as any artist on this list and I hope they continue to do so.

Post Rock/Metal
Godspeed You Black Emperor
Sigur Ros
Do Make Say Think
The Most Serene Republic
Nordic Giants

Violin, Cello-Driven or Mandolin-featured
Clann Zu
Murder by Death
Kiss Kiss
Radical Face
The Red Paintings
The Stiletto Formal
Crippled Black Phoenix 
My Latest Novel
Judgement Day
The Red Paintings
Bent Knee
Miracles of Modern Science
The Pneumatic Transit
Crooked Fiddle Band

Orphaned Land
maudlin of the Well
Subterranean Masquerade
Diablo Swing Orchestra
Ne Obliviscaris

The Reign of Kindo
Forest Park

Amanda Palmer
March Fourth Marching Band
Janelle Monae (Archandroid namely)
The Decemberists
Brooke Waggoner